“This was a terrible fucking idea.” Donghyuck mutters.
Johnny has truly gotten himself trapped in a web of lies. When he had approached Donghyuck and told him he needed someone to pretend to be his boyfriend for a weekend, Donghyuck had no problem agreeing. He’d done it a couple of times before for his other close friends in a pinch and he doesn’t mind doing it again – they pick him for a reason. Not to brag, but Donghyuck is excellent fake boyfriend material.
Then Johnny admits it’s for a couple’s retreat – his work had put on a raffle as a Christmas treat and the winner won a romantic stay for two somewhere serene in the mountains. Johnny wasn’t one for gossiping about his private life and so when his boss asked if he had someone special to go with, he had said yes.
Again – not really a problem. It was more amusing to Donghyuck than anything else. Of all the people to lie about dating someone, Johnny was the last he would imagine to do so. He was looking forward to hearing about their fake break up in a couple of months.
The problem was that Johnny failed to mention they would be staying in one of those tiny homes that somehow manages to squeeze a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom into the same tiny space. It’s kind of cute, actually, and Donghyuck was definitely going to take a bunch of photos to post to Instagram and make everyone jealous later – but there was one problem.
Johnny was way too fucking big to functionally exist in this tiny house. It’s ridiculous how much space he takes up. He’s tall, he’s broad and he’s long limbed – they arrive late on Friday evening and within five minutes Donghyuck can already feel himself getting frustrated about the fact he cannot move anywhere without being one foot away from Johnny J Suh. Ordinarily it wouldn’t be a problem, but in that case, they would be somewhere with much more space than they have now.
It’s even worse when they get into the bed. Johnny bangs his head off the ceiling, because of course he does, and Donghyuck’s laughing until they’re curled up together and Johnny’s knee is poised dangerously close to his crotch because Johnny apparently starfishes out on the bed when he sleeps. Johnny looks cosy and right on the edge of sleep and Donghyuck is annoyed because he is a few inches away from spending the night pressed up against the window.
Donghyuck can’t believe that their fake relationship was on tenterhooks before it had even truly begun.
“Roll over.” He demands, jabbing Johnny in the side.
Johnny opens an eye sleepily and obeys, turning so his back is to Donghyuck. Donghyuck flings an arm around his waist and sighs as he shuffles himself into a comfortable position.
“Better?” Johnny asks. “If you wanted to be the big spoon you should have just said so.”
“It’s going to be a real shame when you go back to work with double arm casts and have to tell all your coworkers that you accidentally rolled off the first floor.” Donghyuck responds and he feels Johnny huff out a laugh.
“Sweet dreams Hyuck.”
“Sleep with one eye open,” Donghyuck tells him.
It was going to be a long night.
When they step out of the tiny house the next morning, Donghyuck has on his best fake boyfriend smile. He is dedicated to the bit and refuses to let one night of rough sleep deter from the fact he was getting a free holiday.
“We have a preplanned schedule as part of the package,” Johnny explains. “There’s a hike, then lunch, then a couple’s massage this afternoon.”
They head to the reception area where there is a small group of others waiting. The guide checks off their names and they’re left standing around. Donghyuck catches the eye of a woman who smiles at him. She’s older, maybe in her fifties and when Donghyuck smiles back, she elbows her husband before taking a step towards them.
“Hi! I’m Barbara,” She says. “This is Ken.”
“Donghyuck,” He introduces himself. “And this is Johnny.”
“It’s nice to meet you both,” She says sweetly. “Did you just get here?”
“Last night.” Johnny says. “How about you?”
“Oh, we’ve been here for a few days now. It’s lovely, I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourselves.”
“You sound like a walking advertisement for the place,” Ken tells her.
“I’m just making conversation!” She laughs.
Another couple arrives, a man and woman who probably weren’t much older than Donghyuck and Johnny. Donghyuck smiles and the man sneers back at him.
“Well aren’t you a peach.” Donghyuck mutters under his breath.
“I’m sorry, did you say something?” The man steps towards them.
The tone of his voice immediately sets Donghyuck on edge. Johnny seems to sense it – he throws his arm around Donghyuck’s shoulders and gives the man a tight smile.
“He was talking to me,” Barbara says, stepping between them. She turns her back on the man and rambles on about the facilities they have on sight and Donghyuck has to try his hardest to focus on her and not glare at the man over her shoulder.
When they get outside, Johnny’s arm slips from Donghyuck’s shoulders and down to link their hands together. He squeezes it gently and asks, “You good?”
“Yeah.” Donghyuck mutters. The man is far enough forward that he wouldn’t overhear them but Donghyuck would prefer to not take any risks. “What a dick.”
Johnny hums. “One to add to the avoid list for sure.”
They end up sticking with Barbara and Ken and another couple, Junmyeon and Joohyun. Barbara keeps the conversation going and Donghyuck finds himself forgetting about the earlier incident and chattering away with her – she doesn’t tell him her age, just that she and Ken have adult children and she’s not quite ready to retire yet, and that they had decided to book some time away now that they had an empty house to keep themselves busy.
Donghyuck tells her the story he and Johnny had concocted on the car journey to the retreat: dating for two years, they met through mutual friends. He tells her about the fact this was a prize from Johnny’s work and that they were looking to move in together sometime this year. Everything is built off of truths – they had met through a mutual friend (Mark) and they’d known each other for two years. Even the living situation wasn’t entirely a lie – Donghyuck’s lease was up in a couple of months and Johnny had offered him a place to crash if he hadn’t gotten everything sorted by then.
Donghyuck was quite proud of their cover story. It was arguably one of the best parts of the whole lie because they could just go wild with it. Johnny had let Donghyuck take the reins, offering up a few ideas whenever he came up with them, and Donghyuck knew they’d created something truly believable. He almost feels a little bit bad for lying when Barbara clasps her hands together and starts reminiscing about the early days of her relationship with Ken.
Johnny had brought with him his good camera and Donghyuck spends some time posing for funny pictures. Johnny takes pictures of the others too, promising that they would exchange details later when they got back to a place with signal and that he would send them over when he got the chance.
Donghyuck pulls out his phone when they reach the top and snaps a bunch of pictures to send to his friends. They’d all been equally jealous when he told them what was going on, but had agreed Donghyuck was the best fake boyfriend for the choice. Johnny steps up behind him and Donghyuck switches cameras so their faces are on screen.
“Say cheese.” He says, and laughs when Johnny grins.
On the way back down, Donghyuck listens to Junmyeon explains the intricacies of running his own business and wonders why someone with so much money would spend a few days squashed inside a tiny house instead of a log cabin or somewhere much warmer.
“I just think they’re cute,” Junmyeon says when he asks, and Donghyuck is instantly endeared.
“You know, it’s going to be really sad when we ghost all these people after the trips over.” Donghyuck tells Johnny after they part with the others for lunch.
“We don’t have to do that.” Johnny says. “We can just tell them we broke up.”
“I hope you’re keeping a list because I’m already losing track of how many people we are deceiving here.” Donghyuck says.
Johnny taps his finger against his temple. “Don’t worry, I am.”
They clean up before heading to the on-site restaurant for lunch. Donghyuck doesn’t want to even entertain the idea of cooking something in the tiny kitchen. Johnny would have to sit outside to ensure he didn’t get in the way and then they’d have to leave the windows open all night to try and air the place out and it was honestly too much effort. Thankfully, there were some meal vouchers included in the package and Johnny says he’ll pay any excess. “You’re my guest, this is my treat.” Johnny tells him. Donghyuck agrees – he’s not about to turn down free food.
They have some time to kill before the massages. Donghyuck is glad they’re not immediately after lunch – there was a possibility that he would explode if he had to lie down on his stomach any time soon after the amount of food he had just eaten – and so they decide to go for a walk around the resort instead.
“We can sign up for a class tomorrow morning if you want.” Johnny says. “They have pilates, yoga…”
“Let’s do yoga.” Donghyuck says. “I’m going to need to stretch myself out after spending another night squashed up in that tiny bed beside you.”
Johnny lets out a surprised laugh at that. “Okay, that’s fair. It wasn’t too bad though, was it?”
“Not after I forcibly moved you into a convenient position.” Donghyuck says. “You have been relegated permanently to little spoon.”
“I can live with that.” Johnny says.
“Well I can’t!” Donghyuck whines. “I need to be held Johnny!”
Johnny starts laughing again.
Donghyuck has never been for a professional massage so he isn’t entirely sure what to expect. They’re taken into a room where they can change into their gear and they head down to the sauna first. The room they are in is thankfully empty and Donghyuck watches as Johnny leans back against the wall and closes his eyes.
It’s not that Donghyuck had never noticed just how toned Johnny was, he’d just never had more than a second or two to check him out before. His shirt riding up whilst he was taking off his jumper or pictures from a beach holiday years ago – Donghyuck had seen Johnny’s body, but he hadn’t seen Johnny’s body.
Years ago he would almost have been intimidated. The gym had been a foreign concept to Donghyuck until after he graduated and realised that now he had time, it was actually kind of fun. Plus it was a consistent way of hanging out with Jeno – once or twice a week after work they’d go together. Donghyuck wasn’t Johnny levels of defined, but he was more so than he had been a few years ago.
“Are you checking yourself out?”
Johnny’s voice makes him jump and he reaches across to slap at Johnny’s arm when he starts to laugh.
“No.” Donghyuck mutters. “I was just… observing.”
“Observing yourself?” Johnny teases, and Donghyuck rolls his eyes.
“You make it sound so weird.” Donghyuck says. “Can a man not look at his own half-naked body in peace?”
Donghyuck has to try not to shiver when Johnny slowly trails his eyes over his body. He has that unreadable look on his face, the one makes him look more serious than he actually is. When he meets Donghyuck’s eyes again, he gives a small nod – of what? Approval?
“You’ve filled out, Hyuck.” He says.
“Yeah,” Is all Donghyuck can say in response.
The masseuse comes through and leads them to the room they’ll have their massage in. They’re playing soothing music, and as soon as Donghyuck climbs up onto the table (boxers on – he’s not quite brave enough to go full nude even though he’s definitely gotten his dick out for less) he immediately knows there’s a chance he’ll fall asleep.
The only times he’d ever had a massage before were when Mark would offer when they still lived together and one ill conceived attempt by an ex to mix things up one night which resulted in sticky bed sheets, and not in the way Donghyuck wanted them to be.
This is different. The minute the masseuse starts on his upper back, Donghyuck feels like his entire body is reaching another level of calm. He enters a state halfway between sleep and consciousness, and when the masseuse tells him to turn onto his back he barely hears her.
Somewhere in his half-awake state, he swears he hears Johnny snoring.
“You look like you’ve just woken up from twelve hours of sleep,” Johnny says with a smile when they’re led back to a side room to get their things.
“I feel like it too,” Donghyuck replies. “I know what I’m asking for on my birthday this year.”
Donghyuck could have skipped dinner and gone straight to bed, but they had dinner arrangements to keep – Johnny had apparently exchanged details with Junmyeon who had invited them along to dinner. Donghyuck watches over the top of his phone from the bed as Johnny changes into a smart shirt and trousers.
Donghyuck takes the time to send a bunch of pictures to his chat with his friends, some from the hike, a few from lunch and a series of other selfies he had taken along the way.
renjun: tell johnny next time i’m being his fake boyf 😤
donghyuck: thoughts: johnny hot?
renjun: @Mark Lee
jaemin: @Mark Lee
jeno: @Mark Lee
mark: oh my god
“Hey.” Donghyuck looks up just as a pillow comes flying at his face. He dodged with a yelp and throws it back down when he hears Johnny laughing. It gets him right in the face. “I’m ready. Swap with me.”
“You’re going to crease your clothes if you lie down up there.” Donghyuck says, climbing down. “You’re too tall to just sit.”
“I can just sit here.” Johnny says, waiting for Donghyuck to jump off the ladder before sitting on one of the steps.
They look at each other for a moment.
“No peeping.” Donghyuck narrows his eyes and Johnny slides his phone out of his pocket and waves it.
Donghyuck doesn’t entirely trust that he won’t – he was looking at Johnny after all – so he turns his back as he pulls off his trousers and puts on a pair of skinny jeans. He’s grateful he had packed for all occasions, searching through his bag until he finds a floral shirt he had stolen from Mark before using the small mirror on the wall to fix his hair.
Donghyuck drops into a squat, rummaging through his bag. He’d squashed in so much that it’s rammed full and he pulls back with a frown, looking around the house.
“What’s up?” Johnny asks.
“I can’t find my cologne.” Donghyuck says.
“Just use mine.” Johnny gestures to where his toiletry bag is.
Donghyuck picks up the Jo Malone bottle and quickly sprays it. It smells good – earthy. It smells like Johnny.
“Good to go?” Johnny asks when Donghyuck sets the bottle down.
“Yup.” Donghyuck smiles to hide the fact his heart is suddenly racing.
Donghyuck grabs his denim jacket and follows Johnny out of the house. He takes a quick glance at his phone to see a barrage of messages from the group chat.
jeno: hyuck u need to expand we know johnny’s hot but what exactly brought on this Johnny Hot moment
renjun: answer him @Donghyuck Lee
Mark has messaged him privately too –
mark: you good?
He sends off a quick will explain later ridden with typos to the group chat before he pockets his phone and links arms with Johnny.
Junmyeon waves them over when they reach the restaurant. It feels cosier at night, with candles decorating every table and conversation filling the room. It’s just the four of them at first, but slowly other couples Donghyuck recognises begin to filter in. Barbara and Ken sit at a nearby table and some other familiar faces from the hike join them.
Everything is easier with wine. Donghyuck doesn’t have to pretend to be affectionate without it, but it makes things even easier on Johnny’s end. Johnny laughs louder the more he drinks, runs a hand through his hair so many times that Donghyuck takes it and holds it under the table. They have their main course and share a dessert and by the time the restaurant is letting them know they’ll be closing soon, Donghyuck has his head rested against Johnny’s shoulder.
“I think it’s time for us to head back,” Joohyun says when Junmyeon almost spills his wine for the fifth time. She moves the glass out of his reach and shares an amused look with Donghyuck and Johnny. “I’m sure we’ll see you around tomorrow.”
“See you then,” Donghyuck lifts his head and yawns.
“I think that means it’s probably time for us to go too.” Johnny says with a soft laugh.
It’s cold when they step out into the spring night, and Donghyuck shivers, clinging onto Johnny’s arm.
“Quick, we need to be quick.” Donghyuck tells him. “It’s fucking freezing.”
They speed across the grounds, Johnny holding his arm around Donghyuck like it’ll magically warm him up. When they get back, Donghyuck sprawls out on the mini sofa whilst he waits for Johnny to change first.
“Don’t fall asleep there.” Johnny tells him.
“If I sleep here, you might make it through the night.” Donghyuck tells him.
“But then you’ll be cold and have no-one to cuddle with.” Johnny points out.
“Valid,” Donghyuck says, getting up with a sigh.
Donghyuck grumbles all the way through the process – his jeans get stuck and he ends up having to ask Johnny to help pull them off. Then he has to make his way up the ladder and that’s difficult even when he is sober. Then he bangs his head and drops down into the bed with a loud sigh as Johnny tries his hardest not to laugh.
Donghyuck feels Johnny wrap a hand around his head and rub it gently. “You alright?” He asks.
“No.” Donghyuck says into the pillow. “I stand by the fact this was a terrible idea.”
Johnny hums. “Will it make you feel better if you’re the little spoon tonight?”
Donghyuck turns his head to look at Johnny in the dark. “Do you promise not to take over this side of the bed?”
“I’ll do my best.” Johnny says.
“That doesn’t sound promising,” Donghyuck tells him, but he rolls onto his side anyway and waits for Johnny to wrap an arm around him before he pulls the duvet up to his neck.
“Night.” Johnny’s voice is low, right next to his ear.
Donghyuck shivers. “Night.”
Donghyuck wakes up to Johnny snoring quietly in his ear. His arm is still locked tightly around Donghyuck’s waist and knowing how difficult it’s going to be to try and manoeuvre his way out and down the ladder, he decides to just stay put.
Johnny eventually starts to wake up, rolling onto his back and loosening his arm enough to let Donghyuck out of his grip. He sits up, ducking his head to try and avoid hitting it off the ceiling again and smiles as Johnny blinks sleepily at him, bed head out of control.
“Morning sleepy head,” Donghyuck laughs.
Now he’s safely away from Johnny’s prying eyes, he picks up his phone. The group chat had moved onto something else and he thinks for a minute about just continuing like nothing had happened when Renjun sends a message.
renjun: i can see you lurking hyuck
donghyuck: wow okay i see how it is
donghyuck: it’s nothing i just had a fleeting Johnny Hot thought and decided to share it with you all
renjun: hmmm ok
“What time is it?” Johnny can’t fully sit up without risking injuring himself. Donghyuck watches as he rolls onto his back and rubs his hands down his face.
“Nearly 9,” Donghyuck tells him, shuffling towards the ladder. “I’m going to get started on breakfast. Do you want anything?”
“Coffee.” Johnny mumbles.
It’s a little longer before Johnny follows after him and climbs down into the kitchen. The resort had supplied them with bread and fruit so Donghyuck quickly puts together some toast and a fruit bowl. By the time Johnny is fully conscious, the coffee is done too and they sit side by side, knees touching, in their tiny living room as they eat.
Their yoga class is at 11. Donghyuck hadn’t packed any exercise gear, but in his attempt to pack for most other occasions he had shoved in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that would do fine. He pointedly doesn’t look as Johnny changes into his own shorts and a sleeveless shirt and shelves all Johnny Hot thoughts for another time. Spending this much time in such close proximity was clearly making him a little antsy.
The yoga class doesn’t help. It’s in a pretty small room so Donghyuck ends up taking the mat behind Johnny’s and has to spend an hour staring at his butt and arms as he stretches. It’s funny really – Johnny’s attractiveness wasn’t new to him, when Mark had introduced him to the rest of the group they’d all teased him about why he had hidden Johnny from them for so long. Johnny posts thirst traps on Instagram and he flexes his arms when he’s showing off the progress he’s made at the gym. Johnny has always been hot and Donghyuck has always recognised that – it was a fact.
Still, there was something about this weekend. Donghyuck had been touchy with Johnny before but now they were sharing a bed, holding hands and pretending that they had lived out the past two years of their lives together. It’s ridiculous that once he starts thinking about the fact Johnny would be perfect boyfriend material he can’t stop thinking about it.
He collapses onto his yoga mat with a sigh when the class ends and doesn’t move until Johnny pokes him in the side.
“It wasn’t that hard, was it?” Johnny asks.
“No.” Donghyuck responds. He makes a point (to prove something to no-one but himself) to meet Johnny’s eyes. “I’m just tired by life.”
“Okay drama queen.” Johnny rolls his eyes. “Are you too tired by life to go for lunch or shall I just leave you here to become one with the floor?”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Donghyuck lifts himself up and puts away the mat.
Donghyuck scarfs down his food like it’ll somehow re-energise him and he’ll be able to forget everything and make it through the night without making a friendship ending mistake. Ken spots them and invites them to the pool and so they go back to their tiny house to get changed and then head back out again.
They decide to split into teams and play water polo and it doesn’t help at all when Johnny tells Donghyuck to climb up onto his shoulders so they have a better chance of stopping the ball from getting in the goal. Donghyuck thinks he’s lying – Johnny could definitely knock it back with just his arms alone – but then he reminds himself that this fixation is getting out of hand and that he’s probably just imagining it.
Once they’ve played a few games they move into the hot tub. Barbara orders them champagne and that’s how Donghyuck ends up drunk at four in the afternoon on a Sunday. With so many of them squashed in the tub, he’s pressed up against Johnny’s side. Johnny has his arm around Donghyuck’s shoulders again and he pulls Donghyuck closer every time he laughs. He feels utterly at peace for a moment but then Barbara squeals about how cute they are again and his stomach twists with guilt. It shouldn’t matter, not when they’re surrounded by strangers and especially not when the likelihood of them all keeping in touch was next to none. At least he knows they’re good at pretending.
Donghyuck has pruney fingertips by the time they decide to get out the hot tub. Johnny’s arm falls away and Donghyuck suddenly feels cold.
“Are you okay?” Johnny asks.
They were on their way back to the restaurant, the silence between them feeling heavy and filled only by the crunching of gravel underfoot. Donghyuck had barely spoken since they’d got back to the house. Stewing things over in his head was never wise – if Mark was here he’d definitely be shaking Donghyuck’s shoulders in frustration – but it’s hard when Johnny has just taken over his senses completely. He needs time to think and he can’t with Johnny right beside him.
“Yeah,” Donghyuck tells him. “I’m probably not going to drink any more tonight.”
Johnny nods. “Are you sure?” He asks after a moment, nudging Donghyuck gently in the side.
Donghyuck forces himself to turn and smile at Johnny. “Just thinking about how fast this weekend has gone. How soon I’m going to have to go back to work. I need to start taking more weekends away. You don’t realise how much you need the break until it’s over.”
It’s not a lie – Donghyuck needed the time off. He had been working non-stop since he graduated in the hopes of showing his dedication but it had really hit him recently how pointless it was if it just meant you were burnt out.
Johnny seems satisfied and he nods in agreement. “I get that.”
It’s just the two of them at dinner that night. It’s both a blessing and a curse and Donghyuck feels by the end of it like he’s convinced Johnny that he’s back to his normal self. It helps that the food is good and that the restaurant is loud and busy. It’s all a good distraction.
Donghyuck wakes up with Johnny’s arm around him, even though he had started the night curled up in a ball and as far away as possibly could be without Johnny asking him what the hell was going on.
There are a bunch of others leaving the retreat at the same time and they wave goodbye to Junmyeon and Joohyun and manage to catch Barbara and Ken before they head off too. Donghyuck gets a big hug and Barbara reminds Johnny to send her the photos he had taken and then they’re in the car, on the way home.
Johnny hooks his phone up and opens up his music library, passing his phone to Donghyuck. “You can pick,” He says.
Donghyuck skims through Johnny’s playlists and picks the one aptly named ‘Driving’ before passing back the phone. Johnny quizzes him about work (Donghyuck was back in the office first thing tomorrow morning) and talks about talking with Mark to try and arrange sometime for them all to get together again. As they get further away from the resort, everything starts to feel more real. Back to reality after a sweet escape.
When they finally pull up outside Donghyuck’s place, Johnny gets out of the car with him. He didn’t need to – Donghyuck hadn’t brought nearly enough to justify it, but he does anyway, standing with his hands in his pockets as Donghyuck swings his bag over his shoulder.
“Thanks for inviting me,” Donghyuck says, leaning in the door. “I had a really good time.”
“Thanks for saying yes to being my boyfriend for a weekend,” Johnny laughs. “See you later, Hyuck.”
When Donghyuck gets inside, Renjun is home frantically typing away at his laptop. He looks up when Donghyuck enters and stares for a moment before setting his laptop aside and patting the space beside him on the sofa.
“Talk to me,” He says, and so Donghyuck does.
Donghyuck needed the space. It’s been a week and Donghyuck has come to terms with the fact that maybe he had a little crush on Johnny and that he hadn’t ever realised because they never really spent time alone. They were always in a group or with Mark as a buffer and Donghyuck never had time to think about it because there were so many other people around them to devote his attention to.
Renjun says it was a little obvious and when Donghyuck hides his face in the cushions, he pats Donghyuck’s head and makes him lunch in consolation.
Donghyuck’s fine until his phone pings several times in a row one evening, and when he checks, it’s a bunch of photos that Johnny had taken on his camera from their weekend away. The landscape ones and the shots of the other people they had met aren’t bad, but then he hits a bunch of photos of him – walking and mid-conversation unpacking that Johnny must have taken their first morning there. Candids that feel like snapshots of another life. Renjun hooks his chin over Donghyuck’s shoulder and watches him scroll through them all over and over again.
“You’ve gone awfully quiet.” Renjun says gently.
Donghyuck sighs. “If I just ignore it, it’ll go away.”
“What would you say to me if our roles were reversed?” Renjun asks. He waits until Donghyuck pulls a face before he speaks again. “If you want to ignore your crush, you’d have to annoy Johnny. You can’t ignore him forever.”
Donghyuck wants to be petulant and say “I can and I will!” but he knows he doesn’t want that. He’s an adult now, this isn’t school where friendships begin and end all the time. Walking away now and for no valid reason would be damaging to everyone involved and Donghyuck would never want to do that. Johnny deserved better.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting it out in the open.” Renjun says. “Tell him how you’re feeling and if he doesn’t reciprocate, tell him you need some space but you still want to be friends.”
“It sounds so easy when you say it like that,” Donghyuck complains. “That’s never how it goes in the moment.”
“Johnny is really understanding Hyuck. I doubt he’s going to throw away your friendship over a crush.” Renjun says. “If he does, we excommunicate him from the extended friend group and pretend he never existed.”
It’s a joke, but he says it so matter of fact that Donghyuck laughs, caught off guard. Renjun’s right and he knows it. He nudges Donghyuck’s arm until he types up a message in response to Johnny telling him the pictures look great and if he wants to get lunch sometime soon.
When it’s sent, Donghyuck tosses his phone down on the sofa and closes his eyes. Renjun pulls him into a hug and Donghyuck sighs.
“Thank you for being my voice of reason.” He says.
“That’s what friends do.” Renjun tells him.
Donghyuck prides himself on his confidence. There have only been a few times in life when he’s felt sick to his stomach with nerves and they all involved first days and big meetings and even then, the anxiousness dissipates because he knows he’ll be fine. Today is different.
Donghyuck leans up against the wall as he waits for Johnny to pull up outside the restaurant. They’d ended up getting dinner because their schedules clashed and Donghyuck hated it because it made things seem so much more formal. Lunch felt casual, dinner felt intense. The restaurant was a small Chinese place and Donghyuck knew for a fact that their knees would be touching under whichever table they were sat at – it was all a lot more intimate than he would have liked for a confession that was likely to tank.
He spots Johnny’s car as it pulls into the car park and waves back as Johnny climbs out and makes his way over.
“You could have waited inside,” He said. “It’s a bit chilly to be stood out there.”
Donghyuck shrugs. “It’s no big deal.”
Once they’re seated and the food is ordered, Donghyuck rests his chin on his palm and says, “So what was work like when you got back?”
“They were pestering me with questions and asking for photos.” Johnny laughs. “They said I looked very relaxed.”
“Well it was very relaxing.” Donghyuck says. He decides there’s no point in beating around the bush. “For the most part anyway.”
Johnny raises an eyebrow. “I knew there was something going on.” He says. “I didn’t want to press you more than I already had though.”
“I appreciate it.” Donghyuck says. “I had a lot on my mind.”
The waitress brings over their drinks and Donghyuck gulps down a few sips of his beer for liquid confidence. There’s no one seated around them thankfully, but Donghyuck still feels like he has to lean a bit closer and lower his voice. The thought of someone listening in to their conversation and hearing him at his most vulnerable sends that wave of anxiety pulsing through his body once again.
Johnny waits for him, sat back in his chair, body open – as encouraging as he can be.
“You know, I make an exceptionally good fake boyfriend, but you make a pretty great one too.” Donghyuck begins.
The corner of Johnny’s lips twitch up at that, but he doesn’t interrupt.
“Like, you’re funny and caring and attractive… all that’s to say is I think I got a little too caught up in things.” Donghyuck picks at the label on his beer bottle. “I definitely didn’t realise how much I liked you until last weekend. And honestly, I don’t think I would have said yes to going along with you if I had realised sooner.”
Donghyuck lets go of the bottle and sets his hands down in his lap. He’s not finished and he appreciates that Johnny knows that and is patiently waiting for him to carry on – but he has that indecipherable look on his face again. It doesn’t give anything away and it doesn’t make getting the words out any easier.
“So what I’m saying is that I like you, Johnny. A lot. And I understand if you aren’t interested and this makes things weird.” Donghyuck tells him. “I just wanted to get it out in the open. It didn’t feel right to keep pretending like things were just fine when they weren’t.”
Donghyuck sits back in his seat. It feels like it takes an age before Johnny leans forward in his seat, propping his face up on his palm. “Why do you think that I’m not interested?” Johnny asks.
Why do you have to be so fucking cryptic? He wants to ask. You’re stalling.
“You’re not exactly easy to get a good read on.” Donghyuck says instead. “You keep this kinda stuff under wraps around me.”
“Have you ever thought that maybe that was for a reason?” Johnny asks.
The waitress starts to bring their food over and Donghyuck presses his lips together to hold back the dozen questions on the tip of his tongue, his heart racing in his chest. He smiles at her as she tells them to enjoy their food and stares at his plate and then back at Johnny. He hasn’t picked up his chopsticks yet either.
“What are you trying to say?” Donghyuck asks.
“I asked you to go on this trip with me for a reason. When work started bugging me about dating and I lied, I knew there would only be one person that I could ask to pretend to date me. Only one person that I would want to ask.” Johnny says. “I’m not a bad actor, but I can’t fake genuine attraction and interest, Donghyuck.”
Donghyuck digs his nails into his palms. He watches Johnny run a hand through his hair. Johnny who had come straight from work, still in his suit and tie. Johnny who had been nothing but kind and caring to Donghyuck in all the time he had known him.
“I never said anything because I didn’t think I stood a chance. I was Mark’s older friend and you were affectionate with me the same way you’re affectionate with everyone else.” Johnny says. “I wasn’t going to say anything. I was fine being just your friend.”
Donghyuck feels like the sound around them dulls as Johnny speaks. He can’t believe what he’s hearing. If Renjun were here, he would be banging their heads together telling them that they were both as bad as each other. Donghyuck honestly feels a little lost for words – he had spent so much time preparing for the worst that he hadn’t really prepared for the best case scenario.
“Is everything alright with your meal?” The waitress asks, walking over to their table and eyeing the untouched food between them.
Donghyuck picks up his chopsticks with a smile. “Perfect, thanks.”
She walks away looking a little confused and Donghyuck shovels some noodles in his mouth before he can stand to look at Johnny again, buying himself some time.
“So where do we go from here?” Donghyuck asks once he’s swallowed his mouthful.
“Is it cheating to call this a date now we have all that out in the open? I like you, you like me.” Johnny asks, picking up his chopsticks. “If you want to go on a date, that is.”
“I would not put myself through the ordeal of confessing if I didn’t want to.” Donghyuck retorts and Johnny smiles, genuine and bright.
Their knees knock together under the table, just like Donghyuck knew they would. He stretches out his legs and hooks an ankle around Johnny’s. Johnny doesn’t say anything, but there’s an amused look on his face as he helps himself to their food.
“It’s a date then.” Johnny says.
“It’s a date,” Donghyuck repeats.